Irish man (27) sent naked images to boy (13) via Facebook Messenger
Published 24/08/2016 | 19:59
A Belfast man who sent a 13-year-old boy an indecent photo of himself via Facebook's Messenger service is to be sentenced next week.
Ciaran James McAuley (27) - who is serving a prison sentence for sexually assaulting a nine-year-old boy in an alleyway - appeared in Belfast Crown Court yesterday after he admitted two counts of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.
The court heard that as well as sending a 13-year-old a picture of his genitalia, McAuley asked the teen to send him an indecent photo of himself.
Both incidents occurred last April when McAuley was on bail for charges arising from the alleyway incident.
Last December, McAuley was jailed for two years for the sex attack on the nine-year-old boy, which occurred in August 2014 after the young victim and his friend were walking home from a fun fair.
In relation to the more recent offences, the accused, who at the time was living at a hostel on Belfast's Victoria Street, targeted the 13-year-old on Facebook last April.
Crown prosecutor Robin Steer said the matter emerged at the end of April when the boy informed his parents.
In the first incident, on April 7, the teenager said the man in question claimed he was 19 and asked about football. He also asked the teenager if he was gay, as well as requesting that he send him an indecent image.
On April 20, McAuley contacted the teen again and, on this occasion, he sent the youngster an image of himself naked from the waist down. The boy replied by saying: "You shouldn't be sending that to a 13-year-old boy."
After the teenager informed his parents, an investigation was launched and McAuley was arrested.
During a series of police interviews, the accused denied having a mobile phone or Facebook account, and also denied sending indecent photos.
Mr Steer told Judge Gordon Kerr QC that the offending last April occurred when the accused was on bail for the alleyway sex attack.
Mr Steer said the Probation Board deemed McAuley to be dangerous, adding: "He seems to have a marked lack of remorse or a willingness to change."
Defence barrister Sean Mullan revealed that McAuley had a "structured upbringing" which included completing a degree course and competing in boxing competitions.
His client's problems could be linked to when he started using cannabis, which led to his parents asking him to leave the family home.
Beset by his cannabis addiction, McAuley's offending occurred at a time when he was sitting at home bored, watching online porn, the defence said, adding: "He was spending his life sitting at home, spending hours and hours online, which led to distorted thinking and culminated in these offences."
Mr Mullan also stressed there was no face-to-face or physical contact between McAuley and the teenager, adding his client was "regretful and remorseful" for his actions, and was seeking help in Maghaberry for his issues.
After listening to submissions from both the Crown and defence, Judge Kerr said he would pass sentence next Tuesday.